Community Eligibility - Food Research & Action Center

Community Eligibility
Making High-Poverty Schools Hunger Free
The Link Between Nutrition and Education
o When a child’s nutritional needs are met, the child is more attentive in
class and has better attendance and fewer disciplinary problems
o The National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs meet the
nutritional needs of children by providing nutritionally balanced meals
that together contain more than half of the nutrients children need each
o USDA research indicates that children who participate in the National
School Lunch Program have superior nutritional intakes compared to
those who bring lunch from home or otherwise do not participate
o Low-income children who eat school breakfast have better overall diet
quality than those who eat breakfast elsewhere or skip breakfast
What Is Community Eligibility?
o It doesn’t make sense for high-poverty schools to go through the standard
application process to identify the few children who do not qualify for free or
reduced-price school meals
o Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 included community eligibility as a new
option to allow high-poverty schools to feed more students and focus on
meal quality rather than on paperwork
o Community eligibility is designed to be extremely easy for a school or district
to adopt and will be available nationwide starting with the 2014-2015 school
Community Eligibility Is Being Phased In
How Community Eligibility Works
o High-poverty schools provide free breakfasts and lunches to all students
without collecting applications
o Any school district can use this option if at least one of its schools has 40
percent or more students certified for free meals without application
(called “Identified Students”)
o Most schools with a 40 percent Identified Student Percentage have 75
percent or more of its students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals
o The district may implement community eligibility in one school, a group
of schools or district-wide.
o By May 1, 2014, states must publish lists of all schools that are eligible for
community eligibility and all schools that are near-eligible
Who Are “Identified Students”?
Children certified for free meals without submitting a school meal application
Includes children who are directly certified (through data matching) for free meals
because they live in households that participate in the
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Cash Assistance (TANF)
Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), or
Medicaid (in districts participating in USDA’s demonstration project)
Includes children who are certified for free meals without application because they are
in foster care
in Head Start
are homeless or
are migrant
Reimbursements Under Community Eligibility
o % Identified Students x 1.6 = % meals reimbursed at “free” rate; the
rest are reimbursed at “paid” rate
o Example: a school with 50 percent Identified Students would be
reimbursed at the free rate for 80 percent of the breakfasts and
lunches it served (50% x 1.6 = 80%) and the remaining 20 percent
would be reimbursed at the paid rate
o Participating schools are guaranteed to receive the same
reimbursement rate (or a higher one if the Identified Student
Percentage increases) for 4 years
Meal Reimbursements
with Community Eligibility
The reimbursement rate for both lunch and breakfast is determined by
multiplying the percent of Identified Students by a 1.6 multiplier. The resulting
number is the percent of meals reimbursed at the “free” reimbursement rate,
with the rest reimbursed at the “paid” rate.
Percentage Identified
Percentage Free
How School Districts Can Participate
o By individual school
 Individual schools with 40% or more Identified Students participate in
community eligibility
o By group
 Districts may choose to group schools any way they wish and calculate the
free claiming percentage for the group of schools as a whole, using their
combined enrollment and total number of Identified Students, as long as the
percentage is 40% or higher
 There is no limit to the number of groups
 Within the same school district, some schools can participate individually and
some can participate as a group
o By school district
All schools in the district participate as a single group with the same free
claiming percentage as long as it is 40% or higher
Our District
• Enrollment : [insert total for school, group of schools, or
• Identified Students: [insert % of identified students]
• Meals reimbursed at free rate: [insert percentage of meals
that would be reimbursed at free rate under CEO]
• Meals reimbursed at paid rate: [insert percentage of meals
that would be reimbursed at paid rate under CEO]
• Anticipated increase in participation: [insert any anticipated
increase in participation due to serving universal free meals,
typically 5-10%]
• Schools that would implement CEO: [insert list of schools
eligible to implement CEO in your district]
Reimbursement Amount Using CEO vs.
Current Reimbursement
Revenue using current reimbursement: [insert total
reimbursement revenue using traditional method]
Revenue using CEO: [insert total reimbursement revenue using
[Note any additional anticipated savings due to not collecting
school meal applications, etc.]
More Than 2,200 Schools
Successfully Implemented Community Eligibility
During The 2012-2013 School Year
Number of Community
Eligibility Schools
District of Columbia
New York
West Virginia
Lunch And Breakfast Participation
Increase Under Community Eligibility
Feedback From Community Eligibility Schools
o All school districts that implemented the option the first year
and were surveyed by FRAC would recommend community
eligibility to high poverty schools like their own
o School districts report positive feedback from parents and
school staff
o Increased ability to feed
more students
o Some districts report an
increase in revenue
Breakfast In The Classroom
Community eligibility helps schools build stronger breakfast in the classroom
programs by making it easier for schools implementing alternative service
models — like “grab and go” — to offer breakfast to all students at no charge.
o West Virginia requires all community eligibility schools to implement at least one
innovative breakfast strategy — breakfast after the bell, breakfast in the classroom,
or “grab and go” breakfast — participation increased by 10 percent
o Breakfast participation doubled in Floyd
County, KY when it implemented
community eligibility and breakfast in the
classroom simultaneously
o When Detroit, MI adopted community
eligibility, even though it had already
implemented breakfast in the classroom in
all K-8 schools, breakfast participation
increased by 15 percent
Community Eligibility Resources
Links to Key USDA and State Materials
Brief: An Amazing New Option for Schools
Community Eligibility: A Powerful Tool in the Fight Against Child Hunger
A Guide to Implementing Community Eligibility
Contact Information
Madeleine Levin
[email protected]
202-986-2200 x 3004
Zoë Neuberger
[email protected]

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